First Tesla Service Appointment

Today, I dropped-off my Model X, Pensive, for its first service appointment. I arrived a little after 8:30 am for a 9:15 appointment, and the first gentleman who saw me checked me in without my needing to enter the service center; he guessed who I was based on the time (presumably) and moved along to processing my car and loaner. At the same time, a second gentleman came by and began going over the check-list of items they were going to look-at, re-iterated that it would need to hold onto it for a few days, and in the end I left with a loaner car.

I feel like I've had enough with Tesla right now. I admit I've been considering the new Tesla Roadster, or replacing my wife's Volvo with some more mainstream Tesla; but today I decided I didn't want to deal with Tesla anymore, the McLaren 530GT would be less hassle, and frankly, I might as well do the less-dumb thing and just get an Alfa Romeo 4C and save close to $200k for about as much fun.

So why am I so frustrated with Tesla?

Scheduling the Appointment

My frustration began with scheduling the appointment. When we took delivery in March we were told that we'd get a call to schedule in April, once the parts needed to fulfil the due-bill were in. Having heard nothing, I called in May only to be told when I called back a couple days later, that they couldn't find my due bill. Since this finally got rectified after I scanned and eMailed my due bill, I was feeling a little less agitated about the earlier troubles, but when they wouldn't tell me what they planned to address it seemed like they were trying to be difficult. Yet I could get over all of this, after all, Tesla is not known for smooth communication; to the contrary, in online forums, even the staunchest Tesla supporter will acknowledge that communication is an outright failure point for the company.

Purchasing

To understand my frustration, it helps to remember how we ended-up with a Tesla Model X. We were looking for a safe car which fit three car seats, and were planning on getting a Volvo XC90 until we found-out that current-year build slots were filled meaning we might not be able to get our car until July or August, which would be cutting timing very close for our expected due-date.

One selling point of Tesla, mentioned by Mr. Musk in May of 2017 and by Tesla employees since, was that during service, you'd be provided a comparable vehicle as a loaner. In fact, Mr. Musk described Tesla's program as providing a P100D Model X in the case of a Model X user bringing in a vehicle.

Yes. And in fact, this will take us a few months to fully deploy, but our policy for service loaners is that the service loaner fleet will be the very best version of a Tesla that is available. So if you have a Model X that comes in for service, the service loaner you will get will be the absolute fully loaded state-of-the-art P100D Ludicrous, best Model X that we have. The same for the Model S. So it will be the kind of thing where you hope that service takes a long time because you have the absolute top-of-the-line Tesla as a service loaner.

I fully expected that, for my Model X (which he purchased especially for a reasonably comfortable trip to the hospital and fitting our family during the first couple years of three-children), if it were to be in the service center, I would have a similarly sized and capable vehicle as lonaer vehicle for the duration of service.

Day of Service Arrival

As I arrived for service, I still did not know what was scheduled, and as the Tesla gentleman started going down the list, I wasn't sure what to make of some of the items (i.e. how they had mapped from reported issues to the list). The very first item was something about the Autopilot not performing as well as previously; my response was effectively that behaviour was mixed with improvements and concerning behaviour. Eventually we came back to the first itme since they had lumped all Autopilot concerns into that one issue (it never came up again), and he indicated essentially there was nothing they could do about the sudden unexplained breaking. We went over to the car, and he asked about any other issues that hadn't been covered; going from memory initially I listed off the charge port, sound issues, outgoing Bluetooth—apparently there was a known issue if someone entered the car already using the phone, but we established that wasn't the case in any instance I experienced. He checked the charge port, and thought he might see where it was sticking (it was at this point not reproducing the issue), and then went to get a second sheet of paper to write down the additional concerns (all previously sent to the same service center via eMail). I went through the one-offs, including the recent odd sound, which he said was one with which he was familiar (odd, I indicated, that online support had not acknowledged was known). As I'd been told previously via eMail, he indicated there was no public list of known issues.

For whatever reason, either the service center or Tesla seems very keen on the issue I experienced on May 19th, when the GPS fix froze across town, among other issues. That was the first eMail from the local service center after wondering if my eMail was getting swallowed by their Proof Point spam filtering, and a few of the issues that were pre-printed on the intake form were related to that incident.

I mentioned that the service center had apparently lost the due bill, which he said didn't make sense since they were all stored electronically (presumably they never bothered scanning or inputing the hand-written form; I didn't ask about how they actual get put into the system).

The Loaner

Upon wrapping-up the description of which issues I could remember, we had the following conversation:

"I need a car that will fit three car seats" "No problem, we can do that for you." "It needs to fit three rear facing, well, one rear-facing and two infant seats." "Your current car doesn't do that." "It does. We tested it. That's the reason we bought it." "We don't have any Model X loaners. The only ones we have are rentals. If you want I can rent you one, or a large SUV if you need it."

My wife wanted a car she could go to and from the hospital in comfortably; that and being able to fit our three children were the two most important requirements for her. My principal concern with the situation was that we'd end-up needing to rush to the hospital, and we wouldn't be able to fit both infant seats in the back; or worse, we would have trouble fitting two people in the front and my daughter's car seat in the back.

Fortunately, it turned-out that our car seat from the X fit fine behind the driver seat (there was more seat for the driver, than in the X, although less space for my daughter with the seat rear-facing). It was clear we wouldn't be able to fit two infant seats next to it, even if anything were front-facing (ordering three custom Diono seats may have worked, but it's unclear if we'd be able to keep them rear-facing, which would defeat their purpose).

My concerned shifted a little as I started to drive the car. My experience with Volvo and Subaru has been that they've tended to loan out recent model cars, often with the latest features, When Subaru was fixing my a stuck valve, and before that replacing a Takata air bag, I got a current-model Legacy sedan which had been meticulously cleaned as if it were being shown for a test drive, and I got to experience lane keeping assist and traffic-aware cruise control. I looked forward beingable to compare behaviour with my Model X to a vehicle ostensibly micromanaged by Tesla; one which was less likely to have the same gremlins. Maybe it was an earlier (MCU 1) model, so I'd be able to contrast the difference. I was looking forward to understanding how the sound was supposed to behave.

They handed me the keys to a P85. Ok, so it was an older model for sure, as the P85 was last made in November 2014, and the model began life in 2012, predating Tesla's move to all vehicles being all-wheel-drive. I got in figuring I'd be able to compare AP2 and Volvo's current semi-autononus to Tesla's Mobile Eye-based AP1.

The first thing I noticed after the model was that the driver's door didn't open automatically, and the second was that it didn't close when I put my foot on the break. I guess these options didn't make the line-up until later. As I drove on to work, and accidentally flashed a truck, I noticed that the cruise-control and turn-indicator stocks were swapped compared to newer vehicles; moreover, the cruise-control stock didn't seem to do anything. Apparently this car didn't have what was called the Tech Pack back when it was being sold, and so not only did it not have Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot, it didn't even have traffic-aware cruise control. I hadn't expected this. A little dissapointed, I figured I'd take advantage of the situation and see what the sound was like. It turns out there was none; the left-scroll wheel was out-of-place and wouldn't acknowledge any scrolling, leaving no way to set the volume level. Fortunately, the car was on mute, so I wasn't forced to listen to the radio.

I also hand't expected how dirty the car was. The touch screen felt like it had not been cleaned in a very long time (the first thing I did when I got into my office building was go into the bathroom and wash my hands.

My trip to work was fairly short, so I hadn't noticed a few other things. Leaving work to get the child seat for my daughter, I noticed the mirrors weren't were I'd set them, at least no the driver's side. Looking closer, I realized the driver's side mirror showed some damage; folding the mirrors would result in a big thunk sound which wasn't re-assuring.

Tesla says the P85 accelerates from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, slower than the X100D which it says does the same sprint in 3.9 seconds. It caught me by surprise exactly how much spin there was going from 0-40; until I got home. Looking at the tires, the wear bars were visible and Abe Lincoln showed just about 2/32" of tread at best. (This is the level at which it is strongly suggested to change tires, and hydroplaning becomes a real issue.) I was surprised to see the charge-port open, since nothing in the car had indicated it was open, so I closed it. I then tried to open the rear door on the driver's side to find that it wouldn't (eventually it unlatched and opened). I put in my daughter's car seat, drove to her day care, got out, and saw the chargeport was again open; apparently it just didn't stick closed.

Frustration

I was frustrated that Tesla wouldn't tell me what they were planning to fix ahead of time, and I was frustrated that Tesla doesn't seem to transfer contact preferences between their internal systems. I found it frustrating that I was getting different information from the service staff on location than I did from the person I spoke to on the phone, from the same location, or from customer support on-line. I found it disrespectful to customers that there were known errata that Tesla wouldn't provide to customers. The loaner car situation was insulting.

Is my frustration a final state? Admittedly, the Model X has been fun to drive with its sudden acceleration and power. Even the old P85 has some redeeming factors, but I cannot get past the experiences I had today.